The story of my trip around the world to train, teach and compete in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and other grappling arts.


The amazing around-the-world burger project: Boracay, Philippines.

In Boracay, I encountered yet another heavyweight. Who would have thought that I would roll with so many of those in Asia, a region notoriously known for their fast, technical lightweights.

Again, this burger was heavily relying on it’s weight, but still had some technical foundation. Since I had trained a lot during the day, I was exhausted and I almost ended up tapping out to this athletic blue belt two stripes. I pulled myself together and finished it with experience and good posture.

Goodbye, Philippines!

When sat at home and I bought a ticket for Manila, I had no idea what I would find there. I had talked a bit with Francis from Newbreed, but in my mind, the Philippines was just geographically easy for me to visit on the way up to Japan.

What I found here though, was an overwhelming amount of friendly, helpful and skilled people. So many people wanted to meet up, train, take me out, and invite me to their homes.

Manila was an awesome three day inferno of people, training and traffic. Then staying on Boracay with Jaguar and Ruby Anne, was a really good experience. So much different from how I experienced the same place five years ago as a “regular” tourist. Leaving that amazingly beautiful place, made me feel equally sad this time though.

Next stop is Taiwan. Once again a geographically obvious place to visit on my route. Also a place I know absolutely nothing about, but I think some interesting adventure might be waiting for me there.

Skimboarding boss!

Another one of my side projects, the round the world quest to learn surfing, took me to the local skimboard heroes of Boracay today. Carlos spends every day on the beach, playing around with his board, and made a little money for food whenever one of the many tourists would like to try.

Me and Jaguar got up early to try it before I would leave the island. The other evening, I was sitting at a restaurant, observing the locals skimboarding, and was seriously impressed by the moves they pulled off on the small waves.

We had a one hour lesson in the morning before Jaguar went to work. The learning curve was pretty steep for me. Both because there is no real waiting to attempt again when one fails, but also because much of the balancing, body mechanics and postures resemble Jiu jitsu a lot. As Jaguar left, I had lunch, then walked back to Carlos for another hour of practice. It was very interesting to sit down and talk with him about his life and I also got pretty good at riding the board, if I should say it myself ;)

Another thing I take with me from BJJ is, that as a beginners, it is important to trust experience. My body was really trying to convince me to lean backward to keep my balance, but when I listened to what Carlos said and squatted forward, it made the whole difference and I was able to ride for 10-15 meters easily.

I was tempted to buy a board, but carrying it around the world would be a pain in the ass. Will try to find one when I get home, then try it out on the local beach.

I am never going to get a real tattoo

…taking 3-4 weeks off training to let it heal is simply not realistic at any time. So a $5 henna on the beach will do instead :D

The guy went a little crazy with the details on the letters, inspired by the Kauai Kimonos logo on my t-shirt.

Took a few more shots outside, now I was at it already.

Evening gi training in Boracay

When Jag got off work, we rushed to set up the gym at the local beach, before the sun went down and we were out of light. We got to do a good little session, this time with the gi. Lots of sand in it, but it was good fun and nice to roll a bit.

Should have brought my big camera, this was the best I could do.

Location:Boracay Tambisaan Jetty Port Rd,Malay,Philippines

Kitesurfing, no-gi on the beach and pigface lunch

We got up ealy today to go to the kitesurfing beach. There was wind today, lots of it. We did another two hours of excercises, this time in the water but without the board. We were a little bummed that we didn’t get to try the board, but on the other hand, it was obvious, that there is lots to learn about flying the kite, safety and so on, before one can actually surf. Anyways, we got the basic course down and might do the next step another day if we have time. Otherwise I’ll probably follow up on it when I get back home, lots of kitesurfing going on right where I live.

We just had time for some training in BJJ Boracay before Jag had to go to work, so we walked to White Beach, which has less wind and nicer sand. First place we tried to set up the gym, we got thrown away by a security guard for stealing rocks to hold down the canvas. It ended in a bit of a heated debate between him and Jag, all in Philippine, which I didn’t understand any of ofcourse. We moved to another spot, where the guard was cool with it. We managed to get a good hour of training done, working on some technique and a few rounds of rolling. We gathered quite a big audience, but noone was keen on rolling with us unfortunately. I got the idea to make a new sign for all the salesmen on the beach saying something like “Will buy sunglasses, watches or boattrips if you can beat me in wrestling”. That should get them on the mat.

After training we had Sisig for lunch. It is pronounced “sea sick” and is made from pig’s face. Damn delicious!!

Plan for rest of day: Gi training, skimboard and banana peanut butter shakes.

Location:Boracay Tambisaan Jetty Port Rd,Malay,Philippines

No training in Boracay today

There was no wind this morning for kitesurfing (will try again tomorrow), and Jaguar was working all day, so we couldn’t roll either. We will have our revenge tomorrow though!

I spent the day relaxing on the beach, until I was convinced by Jag’s girlfriend to try the “Flyfish”. It is basically like a banana boat, only difference is that it flies and crashes in crazy ways. Wouldn’t categorize it as “fun” (even though I did laugh for a few desperate seconds, before thinking I would die), but rather something like “insane”.

I took a few shots with my camera today, but it is difficult. The beach is all the same and it is hard to find a unique angle to shoot it from. White Beach, the main beach on the island, is a magnificent stretch of white sand with perfect blue water. Unfortunately, it is also filled with restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops. One can still imagine how beautiful it must have been at one time though.

First photo is the view from the balcony of where I am staying, the second is White Beach. Tune in tomorrow for kitesurfing and beach training report!

Location:Boracay Tambisaan Jetty Port Rd,Malay,Philippines

Boracay day one: Founded island’s first BJJ gym, then went kitesurfing.

I am staying here in Boracay with Jaguar and his girlfriend. They both train BJJ in Manila, but are working here for the summer and living in a studio apartment up high on a hill by a beach. Before I came, Jag had loaned some mats from a hotel, but they had to use them, so since we wanted to train today, we had to come up with something else.

Obvious solution was to build a beach gym from scratch.

We went to the small local shops in the backstreets to find what we needed. First, we found a 5×3 meter canvas to lay out on the sand as mats. Then we went to a building lot to find a piece of plywood for a sign. Nails and spray paint was bought at the hardware store and we were all set to go.

Down on the beach, I constructed the sign as Jag found out a way to lay out the canvas. As soon as everything was ready, we jumped right on the mat and had the first sparring session ever of BJJ Boracay. The canvas moved around a bit, but it was doable and we had to start somewhere.

Hopefully, we can find someone to train with. If anyone in Boracay reads this, please come by for a roll :) You can contact me on my Philippine number: 09178120455.

After training, we took a shower (=jumped in the sea), then went for a two hour kitesurfing introduction lesson. We had to wear these super awesome, yellow helmets. Tomorrow at 7:00 am, we are going back to go in the water and try out the real thing. Yes, friends at home, I am going to get up early tomorrow, I know it sounds extreme lol

The amazing around-the-world burger project: Manila, Philippines

This burger was kind of a special event in the amazing around-the-world burger project. It’s gym, Burger Avenue, had issued an open challenge (Gracie style). If anyone could submit it within five minutes, they would get their mat fee back. Being a seasoned competitor on the burger scene, I took up the challenge.

I would say the burger was a blue belt three stripes. Had pretty good game, but it could be a little deceiving that it was a super heavyweight. It used it’s weight to it’s advantage, where it lacked technical knowledge. Even though I am a black belt burger athlete, this opponent gave me a hard time. The five minute time limit didn’t bother me, and even with an audience and referee, I was ice cold as I slowly worked my way to the submission. Set up the takedown and from there, I progressed the positional hierarchy methodically until I could sink in the submission 4:17 into the match.

I still had some cardio left, so I rolled with it’s training partner afterwards. It was a new blue belt with a very special signature move, “The Wasabi Noseattack”. Never seen that one before!

The headline of the newspaper of the day, which was lying in the burger bar, just made the whole experience seem very wrong in so many ways :D

Location:EDSA,Makati City,Philippines

Manila Marathon: Five gyms in 48 hours!

My visit to Manila has been crazy hectic. Me and John managed to visit five gyms in just 48 hours from arriving here and I must admit I am pretty tired right now.

Today, we went to a burger challenge first (more about that later, but let me reveal right away that I won). Then we went to say hi to Wax, a pro boxer turned Jiu Jitsu geek. He had emailed me and offered to help me out with basically everything while I was here, and even though I was covered I still wanted to meet up with the guy. We drove to his boxing gym and ended up doing a spontaneous private boxing lesson with the coaches there. It was good fun to box a bit again, haven’t done that for years. I got my ass kicked by Wax in the ring in a round of friendly sparring. I did instinctually take him down with a double leg at one point, and also accidentally kneed him in the face lol. The place is called Elorde and I highly recommend anyone in Manila to check it out. It is run by Ziggy Roces who is a boxer and BJJ blue belt too actually.

Didn’t plan on boxing in the Philippines, but why not, it was a fun experience and made some new friends there for sure.

After boxing, we went directly to the B.A.M.F. gym (yes, it stands for Bad Ass Mother Fuckers) for a two and a half hour BJJ class. Some interesting details on attacks from the side control was shown and I managed to roll a few rounds, finally with Kauai Kimonos John as well.

Peewee had been driving us around all day, which was super nice of him. Good training with him too. After training we went for nice Mexican food wearing sweet hats.

I am so tired now, there is nothing left in me. Just finished washing up the gi’s in the bathtub, now it is time to sleep. Tomorrow I am going to Boracay to train BJJ on the beach!

Location:EDSA,Makati City,Philippines

The next month might be a little busy…

As I am trying to visit the following places before being in New York on May 6th to meet up with my girlfriend:

Boracay, Philippines
Davao, Philippines
Cebu, Philippines
Taipei, Taiwan
Taitung, Taiwan
Seoul, South Korea
Tokyo, Japan
Hawaii, US
Oregon, US

How do I fit more days into my calendar???

Long day at the office in Manila today

So after training and going out last night, we decided to do two classes in two different gyms today.

We started out at the VPF/Atos gym at 4:30. There was lots of people in the class and the atmosphere was great. A big group of good blue belts and the two instructors, Ali Sulit and Ralph Go, was highly skilled brown belts. Ali was teaching the class and had some great details on passing the guard. As I rolled with them later, they did lots of pressure passing, which fits my game perfectly. Lots of stuff that will go right in the notebook :)

After two hours of training, we were soaked in sweat and dead tired. There was a lot of hard work done in that gym tonight. We hadn’t had enough yet though, so we took a taxi to Newbreed. It was a small class with a purple belt instructor, one blue belt and three white belts. Nice little place though and good training. I was ridiculously tired but still managed to do the entire class and roll with almost everyone. The instructor was very good and had a guard game I should work more on being able to defend. Good experience!

After training, Francis from the Newbreed gym took us out to get some local food. It was super nice, really good to have a local recommend us something.

Now it is time to sleep at the love hotel (rate just gone up for the weekend!), the tomorrow we’ll hit one or two more gyms :)

Location:EDSA,Makati City,Philippines

Crazy Manila training schedule!

Ok so I just bought a ticket for Boracay on saturday. I have a ton of invitations from people here in Manila, so it looks like it is going to be a very busy schedule the next few days. So far, this is what I got:

Today 4.00: Submission Sports
Today 7.30: Newbreed BJJ
Tomorrow 8:00: B.A.M.F.

I will also try to find time for two or three other places if it fits the schedule. With so many invitations and so little time, unfortunately I cant visit everyone even though I would love to :-/ The KMA guys I trained with last night have a Nogi class in another gym tonight that I wanted to attend, but that would mean I had to cut out visiting Newbreed, which was the first guys I talked to a oolong time ago about coming here.

Anyways looking forward to training again today and of course to go to Boracay on Saturday. Beneath is a photo of the view of the Manila favela from our love hotel room and one from Boracay five years back.

First few hours in Manila = training, eating and partying.

The flight to Manila was easy, but I was really tired since I only managed to sleep for a few hours before I had to get up and go to the airport. When I landed, I took a cab to the KMA gym. They had kindly offered that I could sleep in the gym and I was looking forward to that. Sleeping in a gym is real BJJ globetrotter style, but I met up with John from Kauai Kimonos, who was staying at a cheap hotel and offered that I could stay there instead.

Now, when I say cheap hotel, I actually mean pay-by-the-hour love hotel. It is called “So clean, so good” and it is awesome. Super dodgy with lots of couples by the elevators and in the hallways whispering, looking down, trying to not get seen. The rooms are designed 100% for sweet, sweet love making. Porn channels on the tv, rubber coated mattresses and red lights by the bed. We got the only “family room” with two beds, but before we moved there, I got a chance to take some hot photos of myself in John’s single room.

Anyways, I arrived at the gym and met the guys there. Really nice people and lots of them too. They had apparently set up a little seminar with me to support my trip. I had almost fallen asleep in the taxi from the airport, but I am on this trip to train, so I took the challenge. It went pretty well and I even managed to roll four rounds afterwards. It was nice to train again, I really gotta get back on track after my little “vacation” in Bali.

After training we meet up with Carlos who had contacted me by email. We went to a an outdoor food market that is open 24 hours and had some real nice street food. I was a little worried after my food poisoning incident in Borneo, but I think I’ll be fine. From there we went to a big, fancy party in a club. I met some people who are going to Boracay in the weekend, might meet them there. We only stayed for an hour or so, were so tired from all the training.

Now I need to sleep and tomorrow I will try and solve the puzzle of going to all the many interesting gyms in this city before I leave. I will try and get as much training done here with as many different people as possible, so it will be a tight schedule.

Goodnight from the love nest zzz